ACCap program: France's Rafale temporarily still on track

World Aviation Defense & Security News - Belgium
ACCap program: France's Rafale temporarily still on track
By Nathan Gain

The Belgian Ministerial Council agreed on Friday, Oct. 6, to maintain - at least temporarily - the French Rafale multirole fighter jet in the ACCap competition that should lead to the replacement of the BAF ageing fleet of F-16 fighter jets. The Belgian MoD earlier considered that the French offer was not valid... Not so fast, replied the Liberal (and French speaking) part of the government.
ACCap program France s fale temporarily till on track 640 001Two French Air Force Rafale fighter jets
(Credit: French Air Force)

On Oct. 4 morning, the Belgian Defense Ministry Steven Vandeput, during a Chamber's Defense Committee meeting, gave an update on the ACCap program progress. He confirmed that only two of the five contenders presented a correct bid on Sept. 7: Lockheed Martin and its F-35 Lightning II, and the British company BAE Systems with its Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet.

On Sept. 6, Vandeput received a three-page letter from the French Armed Forces Ministry Florence Parly proposing a strategic partnership around the Rafale fighter jet. But according the Belgian MoD, following up on this proposal "would expose Belgium to criticism and prosecution" because it does not fit within the framework of the RfGP provided by the Belgian government.

But as always in Belgium, things are not as simple.

On Friday, the Belgian restricted Ministerial Council - the Kern -, decided to maintain the Rafale in the race and to ask for new legal analyzes on the French proposal.

"We are going to examine the legal remarks and check all the contact that could be made with each of the partners, including France. This is a sufficiently important area for the Belgian strategy to let te government discuss about it and still have contacts with the different partners, including the French partner," said the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders.

The ACCap program "concerns the European defense policy, it is worthwile to look at what it is actually proposed, but [each proposition] must meet the [RfGP] conditions. If the legal obstacles are too important, we will remain within the framework of the procedure," Reynders warned however.